Religious Studies

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Religious Studies is a core subject within St Mary’s curriculum. In Religious Studies we will provide an inspiring curriculum that:

  • Develops a coherent understanding of the Catholic faith and an appreciation of the spiritual, cultural and moral diversity within the world.
  • Serves the needs of all students challenging them to think critically and excel academically.
  • Gives students the opportunity to think about who they are and what they stand for preparing them to become resilient, respectful and active citizens.

Key Stage 3

There is no national curriculum for Religious Studies at KS3, however, Catholic Schools are expected to follow the Religious Education Directory (as set down by the Bishops of England and Wales). As such, our programmes of study are bespoke and have been created to give students a coherent understanding of Catholicism and other world faiths and world views. Our Curriculum Narrative for Key Stage 3 Religious Studies is the Story of God and Humans.

In Religious Studies, learning is deeply-embedded through a spiral curriculum which revisits key knowledge in a range of topics. In each Standard (topic) students will receive a “Pit-Stop” lesson where new learning is consolidated. At the end of each Standard students sit a formative assessment, or Knowledge Check Point, which indicates where students have been successful and where there are areas for improvement. In these formative assessments, students do not receive a mark or grade, rather they are given a personalised written comment to help them to improve. In the final term, all students sit an End of Year assessment which covers knowledge from across the year. Students are given a dedicated period of time in lessons to revise and prepare for this assessment. At this point, students receive a mark which identifies whether they have a secure understanding of the content taught that year. At Key Stage 3, learning homework is set to ensure that learning is deeply-embedded and challenging reading tasks are provided to further enrich our ambitious curriculum.

An outline of our curriculum is found below.

Year 7- Who we are and who God is.

Worldviews – In this topic, students are introduced to the six main world religions, learn about key vocabulary in Religious Studies (such as “theist” and “denomination”) and understand how the Bible can be interpreted in different ways.

Humans – In this topic, students interpret the Genesis creation accounts to identify Catholic Christian beliefs about humans. Students also consider the compatibility of science and religion and reflect on the importance of stewardship in the world today.

Jesus – In this topic, students encounter key terms such as “Gospel”, “Trinity” and “Incarnation”. They learn about the context of life at the time of Jesus and investigate the meaning of the nativity stories.

Sacraments – In this topic, students are introduced to the Catholic sacraments and delve into the symbolism and significance of Baptism. Students reflect on discipleship and investigate the lives of significant saints.

Forgiveness - In this topic, students learn about the importance of Lent for Catholics and understand the significance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Students also read and interpret parables such as “The Lost Son”. Students learn about the practical work that Catholics do through charities such as CAFOD and Caritas.

Hinduism – In this topic, students are introduced to another world religion, Hinduism. They focus on the Trimurti, the story of Rama and Sita and the belief of reincarnation. Students will also investigate how Hindus worship at home and in mandirs.


Year 8-Covenants

Knowing God – In this topic, students consider the Judeo-Christian God and the qualities ascribed to God. They learn key vocabulary such as “covenant” and “inspiration”. Students read and interpret the creation stories in Genesis and recognise the differences between the authorial voices. Other stories covered include The Fall, the story of Noah and the story of Abraham.

Covenant: Judaism – In this topic, students study the story of Moses in detail and consider how Jews remember this story today at Passover. They learn about Sukkot and the Ten Commandments, and they consider the importance of the Jewish prophets.

Kingdom of God – In this topic, students consider how the Kingdom of God is revealed through the teachings, miracles, parables, death and resurrection of Jesus. This topic also involves students considering the concept of the Messiah and why Christians believe the Jesus is the Messiah.

Mass – In this topic, students study in depth the Sacrament of the Eucharist. They recognise that Catholics believe that Jesus is present at Mass through the Bible, the people, the priest, and the bread and wine. Students learn key vocabulary such as “salvation” and “transubstantiation”.

Islam – In this topic, students are introduced to another world religion, Islam. They focus on the key moments in the life of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and consider why the Qur’an is important for Muslims today. Students study the Five Pillars of Islam and learn key vocabulary such as “pilgrimage” and “Halal”. This topic concludes with a discussion of Islamophobia in contemporary society. 











Year 9- Believers in the World Today

Revelation – In this topic, students learn about the different ways which God is revealed to humans. They focus on different examples of religious experience and understand what it means for the universe to be described as showing elements of design.

Vocation – In this topic, students reflect on the importance of vocation. They consider the variety of vocations in the church and in public life. Students study the Sacraments of Ordination, Marriage and Confirmation. The lives of Malala Yousafzai and Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow are also studied. Key vocabulary such as “conscience” and “free will” is learnt and students evaluate the merits of different types of vocation.

Church – In this topic, students study aspects of the history of the Church from Pentecost to the modern world. Students learn about significant saints who spread Christianity in Britain. They also understand Catholic Social Teaching, paying particular attention to the issues of the environment and modern day slavery. Students also evaluate whether the Church has always acted with justice by considering some of the controversies that have occurred throughout the Church’s history. Key vocabulary, such as “evangelisation”, “justice” and “stewardship” are learnt during this topic.

Humanism – In this topic, students engage with an in-depth study of a non-religious worldview. They investigate Humanist beliefs about the purpose of life and life after death. Humanist ceremonies and the issue of “speciesism” are considered and evaluate to what extent it is possible to be “good without God”.

Sikhi – This this topic, students are introduced to another world religion, Sikhi. They learn what the Mool Mantra is and about key events in the life of Guru Nanak. Students investigate the “5 Ks” and are able to describe the Langar meal. They will also learn about the formation of the Khalsa.


Key Stage 4

At GCSE we follow the Eduqas Route B Religious Studies specification. This entails teaching 75% content on Catholic Christianity and 25% content on Judaism. This is directed by the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales.

In Year 10 our curriculum narrative is to develop a coherent understanding of Jewish beliefs and practices, Catholic Foundational Theology (Origins and Meaning and Good and Evil) and Non-Religious Worldviews. In Year 11 our narrative is to develop a coherent understanding of Catholic Applied Theology (Life and Death and Sin and Forgiveness) and Non -Religious Worldviews.

Students will not complete any coursework but will be examined at the end of Year 11 in the form of three separate examination papers. We give students a solid grounding in active revision techniques and interleave our content to ensure that students can remember the content from previous topics and compare the different belief systems they study.

Homework in KS4 is a combination of learning homework, focussing on “Key Concepts” for each topic, exam style questions and challenging reading homework designed to extend their knowledge of the topic and also their cultural capital and literacy skills.

Our Pit-stop lessons, mid topic, are designed to allow students to recap and consolidate their learning. They will complete a key tasks and use this time to ensure their learning “sticks”. Each topic ends with a series of revision lessons and then an exam style assessment to allow us to assess their knowledge and skills. After each assessment there is a Closing the Gap lesson where students can recognise their successes and hone their performance by completing a re-drafting tasks. Students will also complete an exam style mock exam in both Y10 and Y11.

In order to further enrich their learning and bring this content to life we invite a variety of speakers into school or via a virtual Q and A.  Recent visitors have included an Orthodox Rabbi and a Humanist Speaker.

 An outline of the content of our course is found below.

Y10 RS Course

Judaism- Beliefs and Practices

Topic 1

Topic 2

  • Anti-Semitism
  • Sources of wisdom and authority
  • Nature of God
  • The Shekinah
  • Prayer and Worship
  • The Synagogue
  • God as Judge and Law Giver
  • Life on earth
  • Food Laws
  • The Sanctity of Life
  • Rosh Hashanah
  • Yom Kippur  
  • Revision
  • Assessment
  • Closing the Gap
  • God as Creator
  • Shabbat
  • The Covenant with Abraham
  • Brit Milah
  • Coming of Age Ceremonies
  • Marriage
  • Mourning
  • Life after Death
  • The Covenant with Moses
  • Passover
  • Sukkot
  • The Messiah
  • Revision
  • Assessment
  • Closing the Gap

Foundational Catholic Theology

Origins and Meaning

Good and Evil

  • Symbolism in Christian Art
  • The Bible
  • The Creation Accounts in Genesis
  • Catholic Beliefs about the Origins of the Universe and Humans
  • Non-religious views about the origin of the universe and humans
  • Catholic responses to Science
  • Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam
  • The Sanctity of Life
  • Humanist beliefs about the Sanctity of Life
  • Abortion
  • Social justice and Catholic Social Teaching
  • CAFOD and SVP
  • Environment
  • Inter-faith Dialogue
  • Revision
  • Assessment
  • Closing the Gap
  • Good and Evil
  • The Philosophical Challenges to God’s goodness
  • Catholic responses to Evil and Suffering
  • The Trinity
  • The Incarnation
  • Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount
  • The Death of Jesus
  • Michelangelo’s Pieta
  • The Rosary
  • Pilgrimage and Lourdes
  • Freewill and Conscience
  • Natural Law
  • The Virtues
  • Revision
  • Assessment
  • Closing the Gap

Y11 RS Course

Applied Catholic Theology

Life and Death

Sin and Forgiveness

Different beliefs about death and the afterlife

  • Euthanasia and the Right to Die Debate
  • End of Life Care
  • Catholic Beliefs about Life after Death
  • Resurrection
  • Magisterium
  • Vatican II
  • Prayer
  • The Catholic Funeral Rite
  • Prayer and Music
  • Faure’s Requiem
  • Christian Sarcophagi
  • Revision
  • Assessment
  • Closing the Gap


  • Sin and Crime
  • Forgiveness
  • Criminal Penalties
  • Capital Punishment
  • Salvation and Redemption
  • God and Hell
  • The Nature of the Church
  • Models of the Church- The Body of Christ and Mary
  • The Sacraments
  • The Eucharist
  • The Sacramental Nature of Reality
  • Church Architecture and Features
  • Evangelisation and Diversity
  • Salvation outside of the Church
  • Revision
  • Assessment
  • Closing the Gap



Key Stage 5

A-level Religious Studies- Philosophy, Ethics and Theology.

At Key Stage 5 we follow Eduqas’ Religious Studies A-Level.  This is an in depth study of Christianity and its place in the wider world, Philosophy of Religion and Religion and Ethics. Students have three separate teachers for each of these distinct components and have a total of six lessons per week. Students will cover a range of topics as outlined in the table below.

Theology (Christianity)

Philosophy of Religion

Religion and Ethics

  • Jesus’ birth
  • Jesus’ resurrection
  • The Bible as a source of wisdom and authority
  • The early church
  • Two views of Jesus
  • The nature of God: Is God male? Can God suffer?
  • The Trinity
  • The Atonement
  • Religious life – faith and works
  • Religious life – a community of believers
  • Religious life – key moral principles
  • Attitudes towards wealth
  • Migration and Christianity in the UK
  • Feminist Theology
  • Challenges from secularisation
  • Challenges from science
  • Challenges from pluralism
  • Baptism
  • Eucharist
  • Christmas
  • Easter
  • Unification
  • Religious experience
  • Poverty and Injustice
  • Inductive and deductive arguments
  • The Cosmological Argument
  • The Teleological Argument
  • The Ontological Argument
  • The Problem of Evil
  • Augustine’s Theodicy
  • Irenaeus’ Theodicy
  • Religious belief as a product of the human mind – Freud
  • Religious belief as a product of the human mind – Jung
  • New Atheism
  • Religious experience
  • Miracles
  • Inherent problems of religious language
  • Logical Positivism (Verification and Falsification)
  • Analogy
  • Symbol
  • Myth
  • Wittgenstein’s language games


  • Divine Command Theory
  • Virtue Theory
  • Ethical Egoism
  • Naturalism
  • Intuitionism
  • Emotivism
  • Aquinas’ Natural Law
  • John Finnis’ development of Natural Law
  • Bernard Hoose
  • Natural Law and Proportionalism (applied to immigration and capital punishment).
  • Situation Ethics
  • Application of Situation Ethics to polyamorous relationships and homosexuality.
  • Utilitarianism (Bentham and Mill)
  • Application of Utilitarianism to nuclear weapons and animal experimentation for medical research.
  • Predestination
  • Determinism
  • Free Will
  • Libertarianism


At the end of Year 13 students will sit three examination papers where they will answer AO1 questions (knowledge and understanding) and AO2 questions (analysis and evaluation). Students are supported throughout in the development of their essay writing skills and their ability to explain, evaluate and analyse. Students complete regular essays for homework and receive thorough feedback as well as model essays. Students are also given the opportunity to consolidate their knowledge at the end of each topic by completing an end of topic knowledge test. This allows students to explore different revision techniques and produce their own revision resources. Students also complete an exam style mock during Year 12 and Year 13.

Exam Board: Eduqas

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Religion and Life

As a Catholic School providing students with full time education at Post 16, we run our Religion and Life course all students who do not study A Level Religious Studies. This course is designed by us and is an in depth study of the ethical, philosophical, faith and cultural issues within contemporary society, challenging students to think critically and engage with pressing issues in our current societal landscape. It encourages them to expand on their learning from KS4 and develop a whole host of interdisciplinary skills.  We are confident that this course gives students the opportunity to think about their own place in the world preparing them for their next steps in life. 

Assessment takes the form of regular verbal feedback and longer essay style challenge tasks taking place at the end of each unit. We cover the following units

Y12 Religion and Life

Y13 Religion and Life

Critical Thinking

Sanctity of Life

Embryo Research

Animal Rights

Conscience and Free Will

New Atheism

Life after Death

Angels and Demons

Dress Codes





Religious Experience

Marriage and Relationships



Cloning and Nanotechnology